The Federal Government has appointed former Medibank chief George Savvides as chair of SBS for a five year term.
Savvides has been acting in the role since the conclusion of former chair Dr Bulent Hass Dellal’s term last June. He has also been deputy chair since February 2017, is the current chair of the SBS Board Remuneration Committee and member of SBS’s Community Advisory Committee.
“It’s a great honour to have the opportunity to chair SBS. Over 45 years, SBS has played a vital role in informing and shaping Australia, not only meeting the needs of multicultural communities and our First Nations people, but helping all Australians explore and celebrate our diversity. It is a truly unique organisation, supporting economic and civil participation, and striving to inspire all Australians to experience the benefits of social inclusion,” Savvides said.
“SBS’s role for the next 45 years will be even more important as our nation’s diversity increases, and I look forward to working with the board, executive and the entire SBS team to ensure SBS continues to play a special role in Australia’s future.
“I also acknowledge former chair, Dr Bulent Hass Dellal AO, who I had the great privilege to work with. I thank Hass for his inspiring and passionate advocacy for SBS and the role it plays in Australia.”
Other members of the SBS board include Peeyush Gupta, Daryl Karp, William Lenehan, Sally Walker, Dorothy West, Christine Zeitz, and SBS MD James Taylor.
Savvides has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare sector. He was managing director at Medibank, and later, Medibank Private, for 14 years until 2016. Prior to this he was managing director and CEO of Sigma Pharmaceuticals, Smith & Nephew and CIG Healthcare.
A fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Savvides served as chair of World Vision Australia for 18 years, and is a former chair of Kings Transport Group Limited and Macquarie University Hospital. He is currently a board member of Insurance Australia Group Limited and NZX-listed Ryman Healthcare, and chair of Next Science Pty Limited.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher MP congratulated Mr Savvides on his appointment. “Mr Savvides is an eminent Australian and a highly respected businessman. I am pleased that he is stepping into this position and have no doubt that as Chair he will continue to make a valuable contribution to the board of SBS.”
SBS managing director James Taylor said: “On behalf of the board and SBS, I’d like to congratulate George on his appointment. Since being appointed as Deputy Chair in 2017, and most recently as Acting Chair, he has played a key role in ensuring SBS is a contemporary media organisation in a rapidly changing sector, serving and celebrating a contemporary and diverse multicultural society. I look forward to continuing to work with George and the SBS Board as we evolve in service of all Australians.”
Savvides takes on the role of chair at a time when SBS has come under criticism for a lack of diversity in its executive team, as well as reports from former Indigenous staff of racism and bullying while working at the broadcaster.
Last week, Taylor expanded NITV channel manager Tanya Denning-Orman’s remit, appointing her SBS director of Indigenous content, and promoted Sarah Yassien to director of corporate strategy.
The broadcaster also plans to appoint two Elders in Residence, as well as implementing a range of other diversity initiatives.